Roz Varon visited many cities in Michigan, but this was his first time in South Haven. If you’re looking for a getaway with beautiful beaches, unique shops and restaurants, throw in some history – and don’t forget the blueberries – you’ve found your perfect One Tank trip!
“South Haven is so picturesque and it’s almost like a secret, people come here and they’re like, ‘Oh my God! I didn’t know it existed, “and it’s just this little secret that people find and they get excited when they get here because there is so much to do in such a small space!” said Jennifer Sistrunk, executive director of the South Haven Visitor Center.
Known for its miles of beautiful sandy beaches, South Haven offers all kinds of fun in the sun! Relax on the shores across Lake Michigan or step outside to play in the water. You can rent paddle boards, kayaks, jet skis, fishing boats, and even bicycles. The newest addition – a splash pad for the kids!
Just up the hill from the lake is a very walkable town center, full of charm and character. It is a very dog friendly city. I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to discover Decadent Dogs, a specialty store for puppies and their owners!
In the city center you will also find a variety of restaurants. We stopped at Clementine’s, a popular family restaurant known for the miles of onion rings it serves. The restaurant is steeped in history!
“The building was built in 1896 as Citizen’s State Bank and Trust,” said hostess Tammy Gleeson. “There are original bricks, the tin ceilings are all original.”
The original bank vault is still there, although they are now using it to lock down their booze!
A quick stroll through the marina brings us to the Michigan Maritime Museum, with hands-on exhibits ranging from boat building to the Coast Guard. While you’re at it, you can take a ride on the tall ship Good Friends Will, a replica of an 1810 merchant sloop.
Since South Haven is also known as one of the blueberry capitals of the world, our last stop was at DeGrandchamp, a family owned U-Pic blueberry business.
“My parents bought the farm in 1958,” said Mike DeGrandchamp. “It was 12 acres on the site we’re on right now, we’ve since gone from the original 12 acres to about 250 acres of blueberries. So we’re standing on some of the original bushes on the farm, they’re ‘We’re probably about 80 years old right now, that’s a heirloom variety that we call jersey.’
They grow around 20 different varieties of blueberries that don’t all ripen at the same time. I had my first blueberry picking class!
“Roz, we’re going to double our production, so we’re going to pick it up with both hands, you roll them with your thumbs, in the palms of your hands, just the blue ones and you leave the green and red on the bush,” DeGrandchamp said. “My professional pickers can fill this 6-pound bucket in 10 minutes.”
DeGrandchamp’s will also be participating in the Blueberry Festival next weekend with plenty of blueberry treats, farm tours, and a look at the processing and packaging of these sweet treats. And yes, I filled my six pound bucket in under 10 minutes!
The South Haven Blueberry Festival will be held August 12-15, and there will be all kinds of events such as a Blueberry Market, Blueberry Picking and Blueberry Pie Tasting Contest! It’s about a 2.2 hour drive from Chicago, so make your plans now!
Copyright © 2021 WLS-TV. All rights reserved.